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Walking on Broken Glass Paperback – February 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
When a narrator opens her tale by declaring, I lost my sanity buying frozen apple juice, the reader knows she's in for a witty ride. The narrator is Leah Thornton, a 27-year-old Southerner, English teacher, and middle-stage alcoholic. She's got her reasons: her only child died of SIDS and her sexual relationship with her husband, Carl, is so troubled their marriage is devolving into a standoff between hostility and frigidity. Leah is steered into rehab by her BFF Molly, which kicks off transformation through growing honesty, self-awareness, and large doses of wry humor. Allan draws many strong, quirky minor characters: Leah's rehab roomie, Theresa, one of a rehab unit's worth of addicts of all manner of substances; Leah's wry obstetrician, Dr. Nolan. A few supporting characters—Carl's wealthy parents—feel more caricatured than characterized, and the largely unsympathetic portrait of Carl makes the reader wonder why the marriage is worth saving at all. A few major developments toward the book's end cry out for greater resolution. But Leah is fascinating, complicated, and above all funny. This nonformulaic look at the spiritual redemption of a life is a bright start; debut novelist Allan is one to watch. (Feb.)
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From the Back Cover
Leah Thornton's life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice in the supermarket shatters the facade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears. When her best friend gets in Leah's face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make an agonizing decision. Can she sacrifice what she wants to get what she needs? Joy, sadness, and pain converge, testing Leah's commitment to her marriage, her motherhood, and her faith.
Top customer reviews
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As a writer, Christa Allan knows how to express herself, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way she turns a phrase. For a debut novel, I gave her an extra extra star for effort and completing a novel.
That being said, her storyline, itself, is badly in need of intervention and needs to go into writer's rehab. Addiction and recovery issues, as discussed by previous reviewers, lacks accuracy and authenticity. The main character and alcoholic, Leah Thornton, is almost one dimensional perfect. She does not reflect the true contradictions that comprise the complexity and behavior of an addict...everyone else is the problem and she's the injured party. True, this is a sign of the grandiose personality of an addict, but instead of confronting the issue through therapy Allan leads you to believe that Leah would be perfectly fine if not for the fault of her sexually abusive husband, Carl. Yet I never was convinced Carl was the abuser Allan tried to allude to. After all, he rolls over and plays dead with minimal whine when Leah sets sexual boundaries after leaving treatment. She would also have the reader believe this very same sexually abusive spouse--with no religious background--magically wanted to wait until marriage to have sex. It makes no sense. So contradictions and unrealistic behavior abound which left me confused...and annoyed.
As a Christian I also found the Christian theme unbelievable in this day and time...there's a Christian behind every corner if you would believe Allan. The book is labeled as Christian, but it's an embarrassment as such. My impression is that she has tried to appeal to a wider audience by sort of speaking in spiritual code without defining anything clearly--nor representing recovery accurately, and it weakened the story a great deal. As anyone in recovery knows...most addicts struggle with the issue of God, which is why the 12 step recovery program specifically leaves the definition of God to be made by each addict without censorship.
It just seems like Allan spent way too much time developing details around what everyone else was wearing and creating many forgettable characters,whose lives were left hanging at book end and contributed minimally to the story.
Honestly speaking, I did read the entire book, but I would not bother reading a sequel--nor another book by this writer. The million dollar question is...where, oh where, was the editor when then book came across their desk?
Alcoholics have each their own story, and no two stories are the same. Those who acknowledge their problems and are willing to recover have one thing in common: the desire to change and to overcome.
This book imparts a multitude of lessons, and these three remain with me in the end:
1. Nobody else but our own self can take control.
2. Face problems head on; don't escape from them.
3. Pray constantly. Don't wait for everything else to fail before you bend your knees.
I'll start with the positive:
I enjoyed the author's quirky sense of humor and dry, modern way of showing actions, emotions, and objects to the reader. I truly did love the writing itself. It's different, creative, exploratory, and confident.
The basic premise of the book was engaging, and the events leading up to Leah's alcoholism were both understandable and heart-wrenching. I could certainly connect with her on that level. I had a lot of sympathy for her and was easily pulled into her emotions.
I actually wanted to finish the book (not always the case) and was eager to read it. I truly enjoyed it, despite a few "hiccups" (listed below). It was a good read.
Now for the negative:
As a disclaimer, I have never been to rehab, in any programs, and am not an alcoholic, so I cannot speak to the authenticity of her experience at the program. *However*... Her reaction to rehab was nothing what I would expect. For someone so certain and vehement about it to her husband, she seems as though she doesn't want to be there, can't wait to get out of sessions, doesn't want to share, and really doesn't want to participate at all. What was the point of her going if she didn't want to be there? Carl certainly wasn't forcing her. If she wanted the easy way out, why not just stay an alcoholic? Why go to rehab only to fight and resent it every step of the way? That aspect was not believable to me.
Second, the over-saturation of Christianity. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought it was a Christian rehab center. Everywhere Leah looked was another Christian. I know she's in the south, probably somewhat in the Bible belt, but good golly! That's a lot of Christians! Not that it was a "bad" thing, per say, but it just wasn't realistic. I'm a Christian and enjoy being around other Christians, but I just couldn't believe that every person she happened to meet was pushing Christianity on her. Especially in a rehab center where that would be a HUGE no-no. If it's a medical facility of any kind, they are NOT allowed to push religion of ANY kind on their patients. So that was simply not realistic to me.
Finally, the ending. Or rather, lack thereof. If I remember correctly, there is a sequel. However, even in books that have sequels, there should be SOME kind of closure or explanation of how the present situation was resolved. Cutting it off in the middle of a pivotal conversation between Leah and Carl was not only disappointing but was frustrating and irritating as well. And not in an eager, "Can't wait to buy the next book!" sort of way. No, it made me really annoyed that I had spent hours reading that book, invested time and emotion into it, and had absolutely no closure in the end. A brief epilogue would have sufficed. ANYTHING would have been better than nothing.
Had I reviewed this before coming to the "end" (using that term loosely), it would have had a much higher rating. But given that there was no ending, I'm going to have to settle on three stars instead of four or five. Just wanted to make it clear to the author how much of a difference that makes to a reader...
Most recent customer reviews
I never read a book like this one and I definitely enjoyed it.